Monday, February 17, 2020

Science Fighting Fantasy

Brian wrote some brilliant stuff about how to retroclone Fighting Fantasy. He has since expanded this into a Part 2  which I need to re-read again, but I came up with some ideas already. 

I wrote about Odd Light already, which has 1 'stat' called Skill. I figured for low Skill characters, you get to roll on a table and you get one more stat, based off what you are or your background. So a 4 Skill PC gets to be a Robot and has a ROBOT stat that they roll under to do robot-y things. I think you could roll 1d6 + 4 for Skill in Brian's FF hack, and have an Awesome Background stat that's 15 - Skill. So if you have a high Skill, you actually suck at your Awesome Background - you're the awesome soldier who has a 5 in Following Orders, or a swashbuckling rogue with a 5 in Con Artist. 

But then I figured you would just roll 1d6 + 4 for Skill, and low skill people just can cast spells or are radiation ghosts or are 2-meter-tall floating skull heads. You know, just, they can do some neat things without a roll at all, because their Skill is terrible. For a 5 or 6 Skill character, if you can cast spells you still roll 2d6 to see if you fumble, Troika style, but otherwise you just pay your Stamina fee. 

SKILL: Roll 1d6+4, consult the table below for your Background.
LUCK: Roll 1d6+6
STAMINA: Roll 2d6+12


10 SKILL: Soldier, Starbarian, Boarding Specialist, Escaped Convict, Space Paladin, Laser Sword Duelist, Semiferal Hypercat

9 SKILL: Ship's Gunner, Combat Medic, Pyromancer, Vat-Grown Hyperwarrior, Robotic Siege Soldier, Dog-bonded trooper

8 SKILL: Thief Entertainer Singer, Space Monk with mild Telekinesisperosis, Bounty Hunter, Conman Pilot Scoundrel, 2-fisted ex-cop

7 SKILL: Parkour Half Ghost, Electric Gnome Asteroid Miner, Spiderbot Scout Ambusher, Reflex-boosted Knife Juggler, Embodied Black Hole, Lava Person

6 SKILL: Angel Summoner, Space Wizardling, Rebuilt Warbot Botanist, Ultratrucker w/ Morphin' Fists, Telestrike cyborg mechanist

5 SKILL: Radiation Ghost, Psi Vampire Shadowform, Rewinder Sage, 2-meter flying stone head, Skeleton Astroneer Mystic, Nitrous-blooded race witch.

Now I just need to expand on all of these backgrounds such that the game can be easily played. Some low skill characters may have 1 or 2 UNCHANGING advanced skills, but most of them would just have a neat Special power or two.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Odd Light: Monsters Made Me Do This

Chris at Bastionland wrote Odd Lite back in the long-ago days of Google Plus, when the world was not on fire as obviously. Odd Lite is a lighter version of Into the Odd - something I figured would be impossible. In Odd Lite, you have hit points and one roll-under stat, SKILL. 

I freaking love the 4 example monsters in this tiny hack so much I thought of ways to make this a viable-er to me game. My only concern was, with one randomly-rolled stat, even in a system where you roll under it more as a saving throw than as a normal 'skill check,' someone with a really low SKILL will feel sad. 

I took a page out of the larger Into the Odd book(let), where low stats and HP let one get better starting gear / abilities, and figure if you have low skill you should be able to roll to get one more roll-under stat that describes your specialness. I know, going from 1 to 2 stats makes this about as crunchy as using all the GURPS splatbooks at once, but hear me out.


Only roll on this table if you have a low SKILL! GMs, think of what that means before you run the game. (My table, 8 or lower.)

  1. Robot. Other stat is MIGHT, used for strength checks, absorbing physical damage. You must be repaired to fix MIGHT and SKILL. You don't eat, sleep, or breath. Each fist is a 1d6 weapon, together they are a 1d8 weapon.
  2. Thief. Other stat is THIEF, used for crime, sneaking, and related saves. Start with black cloak, thieves' tools, soft shoes, 3 daggers (1d6 damage).
  3. Acrobat. Other stat is ACRO. Roll under for parkour, falling. Fall damage is applied to ACRO. Out of ACRO, you cannot move. Start with a long pole (1d8 2-handed weapon), bright clothes, starter pistol (fires blanks).
  4. Prehistoric Dog. Other stat is DOG. Used for tracking, running, absorbing damage. You're about the size of a tiger. 1 armor (fur), bite does 1d8 damage, cannot hold things in your paws.
  5. Dirt Wizard. Other stat is DIRT. You can control up to a person's worth of dirt, DIRT is used if saving throws are needed for your dirt-homunculus, or to do very difficult things with dirt. You can see through the pile of dirt you control if you began controlling it when you touched it. 
  6. Forgotten God. Other stat is GOD. Used to turn undead / divine things not of you / demons. Also can check to heal others. Costs 2 GOD per entity turned or HP healed. 
  7. Deposed Royalty. Other stat is ROY. Used to command others, rally mercenaries / hirelings. Or garner respect if the people already, you know, like tyrants. (Keep in mind you were deposed for a reason.) Start with a 1d8 rapier (1 handed) that has a fancy, gold-plated hilt.
  8. Pyromancer. Other stat is FIRE. Can summon fire, up to 1d6 damage worth, basically the size of a campfire, or can extinguish the same amount. Can only have 1 fire summoned at a time. Burnt robes, 1 armor (scars, nerve damage).
  9. TK. Other stat, TK. Roll under to move something small as if by 1 hand, spend HP and ESP to move a larger object (human-sized, 3 points). Can deal structural damage if you spend 8 points from HP and/or the stat, but you have little control compared to normal telekinetic stuff.
  10. Water Mage. Other stat is WAT. Roll under to turn into a liquid or turn back, your equipment doesn't come with you. Start with a bucket you like to sleep in.

I'm super glad Bruno saved that G+ post.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Whiff Table: Something happens every round of combat

I'm thinking of running 0e DnD or Black Pudding's flavor of B/X, or Moldhammer, or Wolfbreaker. But I love combat systems from Into the Odd where there's no to-hit roll (and no missing) or Troika/Tunnel Goons/Macchiato Monsters where someone always gets hit. What to do? Write a whiff table! 


When two opposed combatants in melee both miss their attacks, roll on the whiff table.
  1. You knock each other's helms off. If anyone involved is not wearing a helm, they take 1d6 damage.
  2. You both fall down. 50% chance you're on top. You're at a range where punches, kicks, and daggers will work; larger melee weapons will not.
  3. You bind weapons and then push one another back. Their weapon lands at your feet; yours lands at theirs.
  4. Belt or backpack cut. Lose the top item in your inventory, as it is on the ground now.
  5. Lesser HD combatant knocked back into someone else on their side, who must save or be knocked down. 
  6. Environmental damage! Crack the ceiling, start a fire, destroy furniture, valuables, etc.
  7. Tooth loosened. You can spit it out in their face for a +4 to hit bonus next round, or try to keep it in place and get it fixed later (maybe?). No hp loss.
  8. Metal strikes stone. You and your opponent are bathed in sparks. Exposed paper or oil will begin to burn. Hair smolders.
  9. Opponent had an oil jar or gland that you just barely nick, but it splits open nevertheless. You, your opponent, and the ground are drenched in oil. 
  10. You just barely get an opening. If you swing with everything you have, embedding your weapon in your opponent, you can do so and roll damage with advantage, but you lose your weapon. Otherwise, normal miss.
  11. Their swing or thrust misses, but tosses sweat and grit in your eyes. Take -4 to AC until you spend a round wiping that out; your peripheral vision is .
  12. You clash weapons and it's incredibly loud. Roll for an additional encounter.
  13. You disarm them and their weapon sails behind them. If they have natural weapons they take 1d6 damage.
  14. Their weapon pins you in place. They lose it but you will have to struggle for 1d3 rounds to be able to move again. Can still fight.
  15. Ancient war-sigil mine stepped on, 1-3 by you, 4-6 by enemy. Spend next round levitating 10' in the air. Spells lowers you down gently (defective).
  16. Skyknife! Your weapon is knocked up into the ceiling and lodged there. It'll fall in 1d6 rounds. Anyone under it could be hit by it. (If no ceiling is available your weapon targets someone random closeby.)
  17. Ambient magical energy interacts with your intent to cause harm. You and your opponent glow like torches. -4 AC penalty to both of you for 1d6 rounds.
  18. You blink blood out of your eyes. You and your opponent are covered in blood and gore. Perhaps another attack drenched you both, perhaps some blood god is merely happy at your mishap.
  19. Their swing is about to cleave into your throat and you are suddenly in the Dead Realm. Any spirits or undead in the area are still present, otherwise it is empty, grey, cold, foggy. You can move about for 1 round and then you will re-appear wherever you moved to. Any valuable treasure or items are but dust in the Dead Realm, unless you brought them in yourself.
  20. Both of your weapons bind and break. If either of you were using magical weapons, said weapons can save against breakage. (Roll a 4 or more on a d6, adding the weapon's magical bonus.)
You could just roll a d6 against this table, or a d12 if you don't want random magical war-sigils to show up in your theatre of the mind, or random Dead Realm trips. 

Friday, November 8, 2019

Ghost Gang Random Tables for Esoteric Enterprises or whatever modern urban fantasy you got

In anticipation of Cavegirl's AWESOME Esoteric Enterprises coming out bigger and badder, here are my thoughts on Ghost Gangs. Because people die all the time, there's almost always a few ghosts in a rough collective, if not an outright organized body of the disembodied.

They're a fantastic organization to hire out freelancers, because they need a literal pair of hands (or 4) to lift up a priceless painting from one subterranean hidey-hole and carry it safely to theirs. 

(Also here's a link to the player's handbook for Esoteric Enterprises, with which one can create ghosts.)

From Wikipedia


  1. Enchanted fresh food to actually eat. 
  2. Ancient vinyl pressing of ritual music.
  3. Large (4' x 6') oil painting, frame optional.
  4. Unenchanted stone idol.
  5. Large pile of enemy's wealth to be destroyed dramatically.
  6. DVDs and DVD player. Holy oil to anoint such that they can push the buttons.
  7. Hookah, brick of undergrown-cultivated herb. 
  8. Blessed salt to keep out uninvited spirits.
  9. Silver-coated sword that they can wield.
  10. Rune-carved zippo lighter shipment. They don't run out of fuel.
  11. Ectoplasm-filled jar, the remains of one of their own.
  12. Liber Noctis, a book of binding ghosts. A furnace to destroy it in.
  13. Soul trapper's scalp or forefinger.


  1. A thief-lich (HD6) and her disciples.
  2. Null soul zone-dwelling scavengers. 
  3. Overly large cryptid.
  4. Nearby police precinct. 
  5. Bank vault, front for some undead businessfolk.
  6. Devotee of the Void and their flock.
  7. Rival ghost gang.
  8. Urban explorers, last seen diving the depths.


  1. Underground, an abandoned subway stop
  2. Aboveground, in an unknown safehouse
  3. Underground, beneath a small settlement of worshippers / traders
  4. Underground, in an automatic sewer processing system
  5. Underground, in an ancient building that was built over hundreds (?) of years ago but looks like it's from the 1980s
  6. Aboveground, a squat atop an abandoned (?) building

Oh yeah, obviously if you get a location or WHO HAS IT from the What they want table, don't bother rolling on the later tables unless you want.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Mothership AP: Kids Are Alright 2: Hellslide to the Sink

Ryan, Teamster, Pilot and Jack of Many Trades
'Doc' Krober, probably not a real doctor?, Scientist, Curiosity Fulfiller
Willow, Former Marine, current computer / hacker specialist
Ed, Mercenary-stat'd Android, (Combat: 38, Instinct: 45, Loyalty: 50, Revolver, 3 reload cylinders Flight Suit)

Getting to the Dream

So the niece/nephew/brother-in-law/android merc squad dock just outside Prospero's Dream, because their 93 Hull mining vessel will not fit in the dry dock. They lose some stress from getting back to civilization, and then the Q-Team pointing pulse rifles at them and hosing them down with disinfectant stresses them out again. They head through the dry docks, down a corridor towards the Stellar Burn to buy drinks, look for weapons, and offload their cargo.

Art from Tsutomu Nihei's Blame!

The Slide

My first encounter roll is a deadly one. I roll an 8. I ask them who's in front of the group. Ryan's up front, and fails a Body save. The group (I rule) has blundered into a section of walkway that irises open and they tumble down a chrome-slick peristalting gullet. Random chrome slide to the Sink! When they awaken they're on a plateau of broken concrete. In the distance they see what looks dimly like a waterfall, with a few flickering yellow lights on a precipice atop it. Above them, cold blue lights shine like distant uncaring stars. Cracked buildings lean drunkenly, and in the distance a series of vast pipes seems to writhe. (In retrospect I should've had them roll a fear save or panic check, but I was so flummoxed that I was just trying to give them some semi-viable choice of direction). They manage to find an old O2 bottle with 6 hours of breathe left to it. Taking stock, they march towards the waterfall. I roll an encounter and get 8 Hunglungs with spears (and quite low speed) waiting in ambush.

The Ambush

The PCs wind up in a canyon formed of two colossal buildings leaning against one another, an alley between them turned into a small steep ravine. It's quiet, they don't see anything moving. Willow asks if she can see anything with her IR goggles, and I tell her there are dim handprints on one of the empty window-panes.

 |        |
 |        |
 |_      _|
   \    /
    \  /

So at the base of the buildings there's a shelf of concrete about as wide as a sidewalk, then the ravine, which bottoms out in a narrow trail. Willow sees someone looking out at them, just a sliver of face, partially masked by concrete and some kind of blocky monocle. The figure darts away.

Willow's player smartly asks if her bioscanner will help, and whips it out. She notices 8 signatures spread out between the buildings. Willow wants to sneak up to the 'sidewalk' and listen in on the larger cluster. I tell her there's enough debris on the ground she needs an auditory distraction, and Ryan obliges by smacking his crowbar against the ground like a maniac. The sneaking marine touches one of the metal 'vines' growing all over the Sink, and it is warm to the touch, despite not showing up on IR (Sanity save!). 

Willow listens in; the Hunglungs seem to think they're clueless tourists. As they spring out to 'ambush' them, Willow has gotten behind the Hunglungs and surprises them, snatching a spear from one of them and hurling him down the ravine. Doc, Ryan and Ed are stressed to receive a charge of emaciated, tired Hunglungs with spears, but manage to down 3 of them in the scrum. 

The Loot

The rest of the Hunglungs opt to flee, and the PCs watch them go. The PCs manage to salvage 5 spears, 2 ancient hazardous environment suits that are relatively undamaged / patchable, a flare gun (3 flares) and the IR monocle. Doc and Willow have begun to feel feverish as ACMD takes hold. Willow and Ryan don the environment suits and the four keep moving towards the waterfall. 


I'm playing around with encumbrance rules Sean is playtesting. Characters can carry Strength / 10 items. Stacks of 3 stimpacks/magazines/grenades are 1 item slot. There's a wearing slot for armor or otherwise wearable items (flashlights, RAW, and short-range comms at my table) outside of the Str/10 limit, as are slots for your mitts. So there was more deliberation at the Dream and when looting the Hunglungs about what to take, which seems very apt to me. Drives home 'survival horror' and doesn't seem to slow things down overmuch.

Also I was not at all ready for them to go straight to the Sink - there's only a 2% chance of this happening by default. But, uh, be ready for this. Just in case. You can just wing things a bit with random encounters, and a dim-and-vague description of the overall layout, which is awesome, but next time I'm going to use some of the landmarks specifically mentioned in that spread. Probably put together a small pointcrawl of where they've been, options for where to go. 

Also the rules for 'you don't have an O2 tank' in the Sink are on page 31 at the start of the Choke, which totally makes sense because you'd go through there first... unless this happens. So I forgot about that! But it's not a huge deal. They have a tiny amount of O2 and I can always say 'now that you've been down here long enough you feel really woozy' if they lose that O2 for any reason. Anyway, I do love that APoF has a Hellslide straight to the Sink.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

d10 Ways The Company Tracks You

Inspired by the awesome d10 Reasons You're In The Corporation's Pocket over at That site has some awesome Mothership resources. 

This is some setting infrastructure, but don't feel like it has to be this Universal Solution. It could be that in this quadrant things are a certain way, but not in others. The Company has to adapt to different markets and sectors. 

If you've already started a game and need to introduce this, 1, 2, 3, 5, 10 are pretty easy to work in; some of the others are 'hidden behavior / things in the PCs' and may or may not work.

Art by Xenya Dominguez

d10 Ways The Company Tracks You

  1. Ship burst-transmits whenever it jumps; the Company has an elaborate system of message-receiver satellites and couriers that pull data from them. Burst-transmitter is built into your ship's jump calculator.
  2. Hidden cameras on the ship, hidden brain-in-a-jar somewhere on the ship, secret network of space-brainwave transmissions in these sectors.
  3. Civilization scabs sell your data as soon as you're getting docked; they're buying data from the station manifest-checkers and selling it to the Company.
  4. Hypnogogic command dream-locked into the humans causes them to lose a tiny bit of time at each port transmitting reports up to the Company. Androids unaffected.
  5. There are a lot of spy scouts and couriers in the area that fly into scanning range and jet away again.
  6. Preinstalled cyberware (1 slot, body camera and transmitter) broadcasts data to corp networks every so often. Reapable, as in, you could try to get this cut out and sold, however the Company will see this as a breach of contract and try to retake any loaned goods.
  7. Obvious cameras in ship, 'tamper proof' physical data dumps when in civilization when docked. Spacewalking best way to have a private conversation.
  8. Spot bonuses incentivize self-reporting - jobs often pay less as this is how most ships cover fuel, O2, stores.
  9. Locator/IFF beacon and cargo scanners that you need to work track data and transmit it to Company systems.
  10. Jump-space monitoring by a fleet of Android pilots who are begging for any kind of release from where they are stationed, but also still doing their job. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Mothership AP: CompanyLands Night Drive, 1 & 2, in-person crew

Writeup physical game nights 1 and 2. I ran my Night Drive desert delivery 'module' for some coworkers. 

Marine with examination loadout - WHooooo that is a real (awesome) warning sign. Don't fear the scientist, fear the marine with this gear, for they will be a butcher of all things. Also if a mysterious benefactor pays for a delivery, but you want the PCs to get into all kinds of hijinx, tell them that the benefactor will pay them for any interesting/weird/anomalous discoveries. Also, don't forget that vehicles have a speed stat - driving fast is more about that than a character's speed stat.

It's Friend's Nighttime Delivery - Geoff the marine, Jeff the Teamster, and Steaksauce the Android driving an A-6 Grizzly from Bixby to Lyons, a strange box in the cargo hold, at the behest of Friend. I'm running the same scenario with two different groups.

Art by Karl Sisson

Session 1 -> The android drives because it, nicknamed 'Steaksauce', cannot become bored. He fails a driving check and the roadkill encounter gets lodged under the Grizzly. The marine finds some roadkill and cuts out its brain for science. They drive off and the roadkill drags itself away. They come across Roland's Bait Shop, hear Sara asking for their help over short-range comms, warning them of automated turrets around the place. They use the Grizzly to shove 2 wrecked vehicles at a turret until it expends a lot of ammo. They bolt the remaining still-moveable wreck to the front of their Grizzly and ram a turret - it gets off a shot at the Grizzly but the ATV's armor handles it well, and the turret is destroyed in the collision. 

They bust into the Bait Shop looking for Sara in her panic room and pallets of food to scavenge. Not in that order. They find a computer and watch CCTV footage of the God destroying Roland and Darren, Sara's Dads, who with her had run the gas station for years. Sanity checks as it mists its way through a fist-sized hole, reforms in its pale maggot-colored flesh, and wrecks havoc on Darren and Roland. 

Then bioscanners detect a strange reading vectoring in on the Bait Shop. They frantically break into the hatch leading to Sara's panic room, she clambers out and deals with what has happened as they load themselves into the Grizzly. Jeff stares out at the God through his IR goggles but fights down panic. As they climb aboard the Grizzly and drive off, Roland's corpse begins to stand up, shouting that "God is here." Sara panics and wrestles for her pulse rifle, Jeff and Geoff try to de-escalate the situation, and Steamsauce slams the gas and Sara hits a bulkhead and is knocked out. Geoff and Jeff look for rope with which to tie up Roland, who comes at them. Overall, lots of good tension buildup.

Session 2 -> Sara's knocked out in the cargo hold, Roland pins Geoff's arms to his side. Steaksauce is driving away from the God, Jeff is watching it in the turret through his IR goggles. Jeff, hearing Geoff struggle, slides down the ladder and runs behind Roland, hitting him with his crowbar. Roland, distracted, let off some pressure on Geoff, who struggled free and levered up his stun baton but missed. Steaksauce, listening into comms from the driver's cockpit, slammed the brakes and only Geoff remained standing, who snatched up some stowing rope and struggled against Roland to tie up his hands. Roland stood and launched himself at Jeff, headbutting him and biting him. Geoff failed to trigger his stun baton optimally - eventually Steaksauce briefly halted the vehicle, ran back to tranq Roland, and sprinted back to the cockpit to drive the ATV away. 

As Steaksauce had driven well and put in a big lead against the pursuing God, and as he was away from the cockpit for ~15 seconds, I figured It had not caught up with them, though he had a 3rd drive check to speed away from It. I sadly forgot to use the vehicle's speed for these checks; the God would have probably caught up to the ATV had I remembered. Fancy maneuvers - I could see using the Android's stats. Pure 'drive fast' - should have used the vehicle's speed. Regardless, out-driving the monster is less scary, but it's how the dice fell. It'll turn up again, I'm sure.

They tried to understand Roland. They hypothesized that the God might be broadcasting and receiving data from him. They turned their bioscanner, medscanner, cybernetic diagnostic scanner and electronic repair tools to the task, and knew it was so. Roland's cyberbrain prosthetics were doing this, as were the burnt-looking black marks upon his scalp, which seemingly wired into his cyberwear.

Sara woke up and as usual, seems to roll well, passing a 'panic check or no' Instinct check. She spoke to Jeff and Geoff as though in a dream. She seemed surprised that they were keeping her father's body when it was clearly dangerous, when it was raving about God, back from the dead but clearly Wrong; she asked them why they were studying Roland's body rather than dumping it. She indicated that it wasn't Roland anymore.

They rolled up on a curve in the road, boxed in somewhat by somewhat steep sides. Boulders on either shoulder. The road itself had a patch that was carved up as though by a laser cutter. Jeff threw a box of twinkies at it from the pallet, to no effect. Geoff knew, from his military training, that mine triggers are set to weights close to what they are designed to attack - an anti-vehicle mine won't go off from a 5 pound weight. He crept close and noticed detonator pressure sensors and mines or IEDs wedged into the road carvings. Steaksauce drove the ATV around, critically succeeding and thereby running over an android hiding under camo blankets near one of the boulders. 

They came up to a Grizzly parked 200m or so from the IED ambush, and watched as a rubber-faced android climbed into the turret and pointed a pulse rifle at them. It told them to turn off their engines and dismount. Steaksauce locked all external doors and came in the back to scheme, and because he wasn't sure if the pulse rifle rounds would punch through the driver's cockpit. The android promised them shelter, and that it was not familiar with the God of Route 11b, and the party was not wholly convinced. They decided to dump Roland out the back and see what the Android did with him. As they roll up the backdoor, they spot another 2 androids in the distance, behind boulders, aiming weapons at them. They throw Roland out and slam the cargo door shut as pulse rifle rounds impact off it. 

The android on the radio calls them. 'We tire of this. Step out of your vehicle, it is time to meet God.'

I figure the next session starts with a panic check. They were very convinced androids would not be swayed by the God, as Roland was. When hope is drastically cut away, panic checks.

Art by Leo Haslam